Friday, June 25, 2021

Darkhad Valley

All words are metanaphors,
Parts for the hole, art in the whole,
Transformation as distortion,
Creation through substitution.
There’s no other way to put it
Is another way to put it.

Seriously, it’s all just a game,
A game that’s just deadly serious.
Not a cause, a necessity—want
To know why, recently, so many species
Are going extinct or nearly? Language.
Why wars? You need language. Why
International space stations and robots
Calling back from outside of the heliopause?
Once more, need language. Faith, magic,
Vengeance, barn raisings, peace treaties,
Game theory, language. No language
Not game; no games without language.

In what you could call Central Asia, or
You could call Northern Mongolia, near
What is currently called a border between
Two sovereign nations known these days
By the names of Mongolia and Russia, lies
The Darkhad Valley, a name that, if given
In English, sounds ominous, also fantastic,
A genre fiction toponym, thanks to the fact
Of what dark means in English, and also
To how dark paired with valley suggests
To many Anglophone minds the KJV
Valley of the Shadow of Death, while also
To the additional fact there is no Darkhad
In English, which makes the whole name
Somewhat exotic or possibly invented.

And indeed it’s all invented, including the real
Names of all the places and species
Of that valley for the real Darkhad people,
In their own language or Mongolian,
Translated, distorted, substituted,
Transformed. A team of thirty rangers
Patrol the park and protected areas
Of Darkhad for a government centered
In Ulan Bator, protect it as best they can,
On motorbikes and shaggy ponies, protect
Its ibex and brown bears and snow leopards,
From the greed of the wildcat miners
And the hunger of desperate poachers.
It’s hard work and a good, risky livelihood.
It’s a game, just a deadly serious game,
And they love it, say they were born for it.

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